Facial recognition is one of the most sought-after technology in the domain of the casino industry. Individual casino operators stand to profit greatly from it. At the same time, the list of benefits is only getting bigger. However, MGM China is not at the forefront of that expansion.
It believes that the tech is still not there completely. Furthermore, it stated that its current level of surveillance in the casinos in Macau is more than effective. That is why either MGM Macau or MGM Cotai are currently using any form of facial surveillance.
The CEO of the company, Grant Bowie, said that the current tech is not ready just yet and that their existing facilities and safe at a sufficient level. However, the sentiment is not shared in the enclave, even though it comes with a somewhat mixed picture in terms of what casino operators are looking for.
While all casino operators, in general, agree that the technology will play an important role in the future, the operators right now are split on its use. A recent crime wave in the city spurred lawmakers to press operators. The operators, in turn, stepped up their efforts to provide safer environments in the casinos. The pledges include many mentions of using new surveillance technology and make casino safer. But, when the crime wave died down, the pledges also quickly went away as well.
Now, most casinos are still exploring the tech. However, it seems that the actual application is some way away. Many are taking the path of claiming that the tech could be an infringement on the privacy rights of locals and visitors. The entire legal and ethical environment around the same tech is a very slippery slope.
On one side, the practical effects of scaling down on physical security is a big plus for the operator bottom lines. However, the notion of tracking and labeling all individuals in a casino all of the time could be misused. In theory, a casino might use facial recognition to track patrons and assess their bets and spending patterns.
From there, it would have a better understanding of their behavior and thus more chance to influence it. If a casino operator has enough info on patron’s betting habits, it could drastically push up its earnings. But, MGM China is for now steering clear of the tech and this is likely not going to be an anomaly in Macau.
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